Vitamin B12 and folic acid are essential nutrients, which means your body needs them but doesn’t actually make them on its own—they have to be obtained through diet or supplements in order to maintain adequate levels. Let’s take a look at how each of these nutrients help to support cellular function, and ultimately your health and well-being.
Vitamin B12 plays a part in energy production and carbohydrate metabolism, and it’s important for the formation of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, meaning it’s not stored by your body and must be consumed on a regular basis. This vitamin supports health in many ways:
- It helps reduce homocysteine levels, which is important for heart health.*
- It supports the health of the central nervous system.*
- It can help promote optimal sleep, while at the same time improving daytime concentration and alertness.*
Vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal products such as fish, chicken, turkey, beef, eggs and dairy products. People who eat a vegan diet need to be conscious of getting enough vitamin B12, since they don’t eat foods rich in this nutrient.
To supplement your diet with vitamin B12, note that there are different types available. One type, called cyanocobalamine, is the unactivated form of vitamin B12. Another type, called methylcobalamine, is the activated form. The difference between the two is that the activated form doesn’t have to go through a biochemical change in your body after being ingested—so for many people, the active form is preferred.
Vitamin B12 as a supplement is available as capsules, tablets, flavored sublingual drops, and flavored lozenges.
Folic acid is alanother water-soluble nutrient necessary for optimal health. The term folic acid is used to define the man-made nutrient, while the term folate is used to describe the naturally-occurring form. Folate is found in many foods, including leafy greens, beans, peas and fruits. Like Vitamin B12, folate supports many aspects of health. It:
- Is essential for the creation of DNA (your body’s genetic information), and for the building blocks of RNA, which is needed for DNA replication.*
- Is required by your body to produce and maintain new cells.*
- Plays a role in the formation of a compound called SAM-e (S-Adeonsyl Methionine) that regulates many cellular functions through the process of methylation, and influences mood.*
- Can help support a healthy pregnancy.*
- Helps promote brain function and memory*
- Helps support homocysteine levels, in turn supporting heart health.*
Folic acid and folate are both available in supplement form. The activated form, called quatrefolic, is preferable for many people, and is often combined with glucosamine to support absorption and utilization. It’s available as either a capsule or a tablet, and the usual recommended dose 800 mcg per day.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.